Read 2 Corinthians 8:1-7
There is a typical scene you might see on a playground: a group of boys is playing soccer. They obviously only need one ball for this, but there are a pile of balls on the side, stock-piled. Some girls on the playground want to use a ball for their game, but the boys keep telling them they need all of the balls, “just in case,” and the girls are confused and mad at this ridiculous hoarding.
This is also like the behavior we saw in so many large, rich companies in the recent past that held onto the extra profits they were making after our most recent recession began to turn around. Our government invested our money in many ways in order to stimulate the economy, intending that when the economy improved, such companies could hire more people or buy more raw resources to make more products, not so they could hoard resources for a rainy day, which was not doing anyone any good.
The Bible has a lot to say about how we use our money. Jesus told the parable of the rich man whose land was so abundant he had to build bigger barns, but it was clear that this man was hoarding his grain much like the large companies are hoarding profits, only for themselves. In Genesis, Joseph interprets the Pharaoh’s dreams of an upcoming famine, and urges the Pharaoh to store up the current abundance of crops to prepare for the famine, which is done, not for the Pharaoh’s household alone, but for the whole land. This action saves Egypt and many other lands because it was not done out of selfishness.
Paul holds up the generosity of the Macedonians not because they had an abundance to share, but because they joyfully offered up everything they could in service to God, despite having very little. The Corinthians had everything. Holding onto it just in case they began to experience similar persecution would not grow the church. Holding onto it would only help themselves, and only in the short term.
Holding onto what we have been given instead of offering it back for God’s use elsewhere kills our souls, our faith and our communities. Then there would be nothing worth holding onto. By giving generously there might be other disciples gathered into the body to support each other in hard times.
Too often we think we will not have enough for ourselves in an emergency if we give too much away. And yet, time and again the feeding of the 5,000 becomes a reality. We don’t know how it works, we just know that it does. When we share what we have in the midst of scarcity, everyone has more than enough of what they need. Our God is a God of abundance, not a God of scarcity.
Reflect: Think of a time that you thought there would not be enough to go around, but when everyone shared what they had to offer, there was more than enough for everyone. How might we remind ourselves to keep believing in a God of abundance rather than a God of scarcity?
Devotion from A Heart for Reconciliation by Megan Dosher Hansen and Michael Rinehart